By Roni Alasor / Lorin Sarkisian – Brussels, 21 Jan 2014 – Ararat News (ANP) – In a speech in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Masoud Barzani, President of Kurdistan Region, called for solidarity, support and closer cooperation for Kurdistan Region in the process of building democratic institutions, as well in economic, trade and security interest.

In his long speech, the Kurdish President didn’t close the door for the Kurdish independency but underlined that as every nation, the Kurdish people has also right for self determination. Prominent Members of the European Parliament praised Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for trying to preserve stable, democratic and secular system in the difficult geopolitical situation of the Middle East.

President Barzani summarised the tragic situation of the Kurdish people especially during Saddam Hussein and asked EU to show solidarity with the rights of the people of Kurdistan and to expend all its efforts to recognize the genocide against our people. “We have suffered and have been victims of chemical weapons and the infamous Anfal campaign in which 182,000 people disappeared, of which we have only been able to recover the remains of about 4,000 of them from mass graves across the southern Iraqi deserts. The search continues for the remaining victims. In the chemical attack on Halabja, in the space of just a few minutes, 5,000 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, were gassed to death”.

But after been free from Saddam’s tyrannical  regime, today per capita income in Kurdistan is more than 5.000 US dollars to compeer with 500 US dollars in 2003. “We are at the beginning of the road in building democratic institutions, and we need your help and expertise to build these institutions”.

“The problems in the Middle East should be solved through national reconciliation, peace, political, economic and social reforms. Our experience in Kurdistan Region proved successful and we can also help the rest of Iraq and the neighbouring countries to achieve that”, said President Barzani.

The Kurdish President added that the countries in the Middle East should follow the European example, promote cultural dialogue and “transform their borders as the border between France and Belgium. We cannot change the history and the borders today, but we can work for constant cooperation”, concluded President Barzani.

Members from the main political groups, including Hans-Gert Pöttering (EPP, former EP President), Struan Stevenson, (ECR, Chair of the EP-Iraqi Delegation), Ana Gomes (S-D coordinator and spokesperson in AFET), Johannes Van Baalen (ALDE), Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), Mark Demesmaeker (Greens), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), Charles Tannock (ECR),  Alojz Peterle (EPP) and Bastiaan Belder (EFD), thanked KRG for the efforts made for stabilisation and democratisation, as well as for the help offered to the Iraqi and Syrian refugees and to the Christian minorities.

President Barzani pointed out that 250 000 refugees from Syria, including Kurds, Arabs, Christians and others, have settled in Kurdistan. In addition to that, 200 000 displaced people from central and southern Iraq found refuge in Kurdistan. The number of Christians has increased from 10 000 families to more than 36 000 families and they enjoy safety, freedom of beliefs and religious rights. However, President Barzani regretted the lack of sufficient international support to help the refugees in Kurdistan. “We are proud of the fact that Kurdistan has become a haven for so many people. But I have to point out that the assistance from the international community for these refugees has not been in par with the assistance provided to refugees in other countries in the region”.

Answering to question about the Syrian conference in Geneva, the Kurdish President said that he expects very little from it, but the international community should be aware of the growing threat from the AL Qaida linked terrorist groups. “Terrorist groups cannot have permanent bases in Kurdistan and we fight to not allow them at our borders. But they should not be allowed to gain power in Syria either”, underlined President Barzani. President Barzani was accompanied by Kurdistan Region Presidency Chief of Staff  Dr. Fuad Hussein, KRG Head of Foreign Relations Department Falah Mustafa and Head of the KRG Mission to EU Delaver Ajgeiy.